SENIOR gardaí are warning it will be “extremely difficult” to manage the force if the upsurge in retirements of superintendents continues.
The Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) said the problem could “ultimately impact” on the service provided to the public.
Speaking at the AGS annual conference, association president Martin Shanahan said morale at superintendent rank “had taken a blow” as the rewards for decades of service was being hit by various levies.
He said because of the moratorium on promotions, vacancies at superintendent level were not being filled.
Addressing the Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, who was in attendance, he said, last year 64 of their members were interviewed for promotion. He said five were selected but were now in limbo.
As reported in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, Supt Shanahan said 11 superintendents had already decided to take voluntary retirement this year.
“At the moment, we have 181 superintendents and 101 of these are eligible to retire immediately. I pose to question ‘What happens if these members decide to do so?
“It is sad that our members feel compelled to retire because of the cuts they have already taken, and more importantly in my view because of the constant threat that their pension and gratuity will be compromised.”
He said Mr Justice Frederick Morris, who chaired the tribunal into Garda abuses in Donegal, had laid responsibility squarely on the shoulders of superintendents for all operational, management and statutory functions in their area.
“We cannot leave such posts vacant,” said Supt Shanahan. “Should the current rate of retirements escalate and if the moratorium on promotions continues, it will prove extremely difficult to maintain effective management levels, which may ultimately impact on the quality of service to the public.”
He said the shortage of experienced officers was also felt at middle ranks.
“It is vital that young members must not be left without frontline supervisors at sergeant rank. Minister, 43% of members of garda rank have five years or less service. There is a shortage of experienced officers which must be bridged.”
He called on the minister to “provide the leadership” the force required.
On a separate matter, the AGS president said superintendents had investigated almost 50% of the complaints submitted to Garda Ombudsman Commission.
“This is not what the public demanded or expected when they asked for complaints against gardaí to be investigated independently.”
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